As China’s economy continues to grow, many young professionals are looking to get ahead by learning the most spoken language in the world. To honour those studying the language, the “Chinese Bridge” competition kicked off across the globe. Today, we head to Turkey and South Africa to check out how contestants there are showcasing their Chinese language skills and love of Chinese culture.
Twenty-six contestants from all over Turkey gathered at Ankara University to compete in the final round of a Chinese language competition. Having passed the written test, they have to give a two-minute speech and a three-minute demonstration using elements of Chinese culture. In the end, a student from the Chinese Department of Fatih University won the championship.
“My parents are doing business with Chinese companies. So they go to Shanghai and Beijing every week or every month. They have me as their interpretor,” said the winner Enes Abdulhalik Cizmecioglu.
Going by his Chinese name Qi Meizhong, he will represent Turkey in the final round of the Chinese Bridge Award, which will be held in Changsha in July. Qi will be going up against contestants from all over the world.
As trade and tourism continues to grow between China and Turkey, more Turkish people are studying Chinese in hopes of closing the language barrier.
While some need to learn Chinese for business purposes, like Qi’s parents, others have been attracted by the lure of Chinese culture.
Presently, there are seven universities in Turkey that offer Chinese language majors. But the growing demand is still far from being met.
“I opened a Chinese department at Ercis University in 1998. Now there are 120 to 130 students. But the number is still far from enough. While the two countries have had diplomatic relations for 43 years, the development of Chinese language in Turkey has been slow,” said Bulent Okay from Chinese Studies Academic.
Ankara University is currently applying to open a Confucius Institute and it’s estimated a total of 15 Turkish universities will be opening Chinese courses in the next five years.
In Cape Town, South Africa, contestants there amazed the jury and audiences with their performances that featured traditional Chinese culture.
“My Chinese dream is to go to villages in Yunnan in China, and to teach the children there about the outside world. And learning the language will help me realize my dream,” said Chinese language student Patrick Smellier.
“I think the Chinese language is very interesting and the characters are very beautiful,” another student, Lauren Maris said.